Why is it red vs blue in video games?

Posted on February 27, 2015

Have you ever wondered why it is often “red vs blue” team in video games? But, is there really any advantage to pick one over the other? We will look at the colour effect in real sports and video games below.

The book "Drunk Tank Pink and Other Unexpected Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave," by Adam Alter shows how the colour of a uniform can affect performance in a competitive sport. Alter cites a 2005 study that looked at Olympic athletes participating in one-on-one "combat sports" and one of the competitor is randomly assigned a blue outfit while the other gets red. And researchers found that those wearing red uniforms won a statistically significantly larger portion of their matches.

Hill and Barton proposed that red is associated with heightened agression, dominance, and testosterone levels. Hence, the colour red kind of primes the competitors to become rather aggressive and dominating. This idea could be subconscious where red makes you more competitive; the opponent also perceives the red party as the intimidating one.

What about for video games?

In 2008, a study published in the journal Cyberpsychology & Behavior found that red teams won about 5 percent more matches than blue. However, the effect is not significant enough when it comes to a close competition. Going back to the Hill & Barton study, when competitors are mismatched, the red advantage will not be there. For instance, an expert in blue, will not lose to a beginner in red that easily.

Does choosing red helps then? More research would be needed to substantiate, but there is no harm in selecting red. For all we know, it might be your path to winning!


Source material from Psychology Today